“People are looking for talent in the wrong places,” according to CollabWORK CEO and founder, Summer Delaney.
Brand publishers often find it particularly difficult to source high-quality talent because the discipline is new and evolving rapidly. Meanwhile, the way publishing talent looks for jobs has changed drastically in the post-pandemic world.
Toolkits spoke with Delaney about why brand publishers have a hard time finding talent, why current approaches to hiring are broken, and how CollabWORK is tapping curated professional communities and leveraging referrals to source high-quality candidates. The conversation has been edited for clarity.
The way editorial talent finds work is changing
“I was in the [publishing] industry for a decade plus, and I never got a job through a traditional job board. I always got it through my network: whether that was my alumni community, whether that was past colleagues that were at a new spot and brought me along, whether that was in listservs I joined or Facebook groups. It’s inherent in this industry, we really like to go to our network, referrals are like the number one source for getting jobs, and people are four times more likely to land a role that way than if they apply online.”
“During a pandemic, a lot of [networking] opportunities went away. A lot of people who are in this new remote world, still need to adapt and find new collaborators on their projects.”
“So when I was thinking about this company, it was like, how do we productize those referrals at scale, not only to connect great vetted talent to people, but also address some of the DEI and under-representation concerns that we have in this industry? How do we still feel that intimacy of a word-of-mouth referral? How do we open doors to different pockets of the Internet to connect where talent is actually congregating and networking to brands and companies at scale?”
Brand publishing has unique challenges
“Just because you’ve had a great career as a magazine editor, or a newspaper writer, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily equipped to go into a situation where you have different stakeholders. The funnels and channels are different, the way your audiences perceive your brand is different and the brand-building experience is different. A lot of people who are making this transition are subject experts in one discipline, but need some kind of help or guidance to be successful in a new environment.”
“Then, when people are making this leap, they might not have a network that they actually think they have to actually build their teams. So how do you find the right people?”
“People don’t know how to reach the people that have the skillsets of what the current market is demanding.”
Current approaches to hiring editorial talent at brands are broken
“Maybe over the years of being in the business, you knew a photographer, you knew a copywriter. But when you’re a brand publisher you also have to think about audience and community building, for example. Those are different types of skills that you might not have that Rolodex for. A lot of recruiters haven’t been in that content-creating environment and don’t know what’s required on the job. And the other thing is evaluation, since a lot of recruiters or internal people don’t know how to evaluate editorial talent, especially if it’s freelance or contract.
“You have a million other things to worry about: you have to get content on the web, or you have a deadline for your magazine, or you have other concerns that you are focused on. So going on LinkedIn, searching and putting requests on platforms is a lot of work. The other thing is when people do hire, they’re overwhelmed with candidates and they get a lot of unqualified leads. CollabWORK gives you a curated shortlist of 10 to 30 candidates that meet your criteria that have all been recommended by people who do these jobs day in day so they know the best people.”
An uptick in part-time and fractional roles
“There have been so many layoffs that a lot of the people left behind are really burned out, because a lot of the team has left, but they have the mandate to proceed business as usual. A lot of people do end up still needing to hire freelancers, and need to hire part-time folks. The other thing we’re seeing is a lot of the rise of fractional work, and a lot of subject experts are positioning themselves as fractional subject experts, in marketing, growth, audience development.”
“In these uncertain times, that expertise is in high demand. And I think the other thing we’re seeing a lot is the rise of the generalist people that really can wear many hats: someone who has the chops that can get in there and actually create content, but also do analytics and reporting and help with partnerships and just has a good pulse on what the market needs.”